What I found as I poked around was that ending this pandemic and previous ones really has more to do with human behavior, as informed by scientific realities, than it does with wrestling a slippery pathogen into numerical submission and declaring it conquered.
The first step in envisioning an end to the COVID-19 pandemic is to disabuse ourselves of a view of the future where humans have completely vanquished SARS-CoV-2. “‘The pandemic is over,’ does not mean that the COVID-19 virus is eradicated like smallpox,” says Peter Pitts, president and cofounder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. “It means it’s moved from a deadly phase to a phase where people are going to get infected and not suffer serious manifestations and not be hospitalized and not be intubated.”
According to Pitts, who served as associate commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration from 2003 to 2004, transitioning from a pandemic into an endemic scenario will happen when “we’ve moved from mitigating the virus, where the virus is in control, to containing the virus, where we are in control.”